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How long does the VOC off-gassing last with latex paint?
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How long does the VOC off-gassing last with latex paint?

Hi,

I am a renter looking for a new apartment and will be having a baby in a couple months. Unfortunately, most places have already been painted before we look at them, so I can't choose a low or no VOC paint. How long does the off-gassing from VOC paints last?

Another related question-- I've heard that carpet can also off-gas and be somewhat toxic in your home, but with being a renter we have little control over this. We prefer hardwood floors, but if we end up having to rent a place with carpet, is there a type of carpet that's better than others or some that are particularly bad to watch out for?

Thanks in advance!
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Avatar_dr_m_tn
Hello,

In general, the most significant amount of off-gassing of VOCs from paints occurs in the initial hours and first days after painting. The length of time depends on several factors: the type of paint, ventilation in the room(s), ambient temperature.

Many types of home products off-gas to include furniture and carpets. For these products, a simple rule is that newer products off-gas more than older products.

Your best be is to inquire about the brand of product and then to your own independent research about the constituents of the product and how it is manufactured and treated.

The terminology of "green" products is not a regulated term and there is wide variation in the relative safety of such products.

useful links:
1. http://www.epa.gov/epp/pubs/products/carpets.htm
2. http://www.epa.gov/greenhomes/bedroom.htm
3. http://www.epa.gov/oaintrnt/relpro/index.htm

~•~ Dr. Parks

This answer is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice. The information presented in this posting is for patients’ education only. As always, I encourage you to see your personal physician for further evaluation of your individual case.
2 Comments
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Avatar_m_tn
Hi, If you have found repainted rooms in your house and then smelled the paint for days, then the paint is definitely not low or no Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC). People who suffer from allergies shouldn't be around paint that has a lot of Volatile Organic Compounds in it. It may cause shortness of breath, coughing and itching etc. Also, the fumes off-gas into the atmosphere and everyone else will be subjected to them. Eventually, all paint will be low Volatile Organic Compounds. It's better for our health, and the environment. Low or no VOC paint is so much safer for pregnant women and those people with certain health conditions, like asthma.

If you are unable to find such low VOC painted homes then some research on the web could help locate them for you. If you are decorating an as-yet-to-arrive baby's room, then using natural flooring and low VOC paints is well worth the effort. A lot of people who were going to choose earth-toned colors anyway, like to move to these low VOCs paint and other products. If you are trying to make your home as allergy free as you can, then along with the paint, flooring can be chosen that's also low VOC. Along with paint, other wall coverings may include a natural sealer for real wood walls, such as a cabin would have.

Hope this helps.
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Avatar_dr_m_tn
Philip D Parks, MD, MPH, MOccH, F...Blank
Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard Medical School
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